Angelus, a high-end watch brand from La Chaux-de-Fonds, introduces their latest creation: The U20 ‘Ultra Skeleton’ Tourbillon. The brand is famous for creating exceptional chronograph and multi-complicated wristwatches, multi-display travel clocks with long power reserves and alarm watches. You could say Angelus is a brand with a rich history and their fair share of knowledge in the watch industry. An industry that’s build on heritage of brands like Angelus. Brands with a rich past and their own unique way of filling in their position in the market. However, as the 70’s hit our calendar, Angelus went missing and with that the rich history of the brand was left in a shed far away from evolving watch world. That was until 2011 became reality. La Joux-Perret SA is the name of the angel that revived the brand and Frédéric Wenger together with Dr. Sébastien Chaulmontet were determined to bring back the once so widely respected brand.
To be honest, I really do love their early chronographs. There’s that characteristic look in chronograph watches from a century ago. Anyhow, they revealed their latest creation and I can tell you, it’s nothing like the chronographs or travel clocks that brought them a nice collection of prizes. The U20 is – how could you guess – a skeleton watch. Before I tell you more about this new Angelus, I want to discuss something that struck my mind when discovering the difference between the early Angelus watches and the models they made since the ‘restart’. You see, when a brand is created by its originators, there’s a certain vision. That vision becomes the characteristic for the brand and one can see when watches or cars or whatever are from a specific brand. A Rolex is recognizable, a Porsche is something you pick out with closed eyes – get the point? The original Angelus watches had this same feeling, a watch enthusiast would know when someone had an Angelus around his wrist. That’s not because of the brand tag on the dial. Well, that’s normal, it’s not wrong and it’s completely logical. That’s the reason a brand is what it is. Now, this is the part where the difficulties kick in. The brand got a good treatment, has been polished and put back into the light by the two gentlemen from La Joux-Perret SA. Then, there comes the moment you or me, we as watch fanatics, can ask ourselves: did they do a good job with this manufacturing process?
At this point, I am only eligible to say one thing: dare to be different. Yes, on the one hand don’t mess with history and try to do things totally different from how they were. On the other hand, where would we be if people kept doing the same thing over and over and over again? Exactly, we would be nowhere. We would still walk around in ‘coats’ made from bears we killed and stupid haircuts, because there would be no such thing as a hairdresser. You get the point. So, I can understand you if you would like to see old Angelus characteristics and 1:1 copies of their 1906 chronographs, but hey that’s not what’s happening. That’s why there’s the Angelus U10 and –now – the new U20.
Thank you for reading my very wise story about things from the past and so on, let’s discuss the watch now. The Angelus U20 ‘Ultra Skeleton’ Tourbillon. The first thing that popped up in my mind when looking at the watch was ‘this is a true skeleton’. By that I mean, goddamn there’s little in the way of my hairy wrist underneath the watch. I like skeleton watches, that’s not for the fact they have a minimal look, but I love to see the technique in a movement. I want to see the complicated craft of building movements and show it to other people. Convincing other people to become watch enthusiast too. Because that’s cool, it really is.
What makes it difficult to produce a watch like this, is the fact that all of the movement components are fixed on a sapphire main plate. Sapphire is known as a material that’s incredibly fragile to handle and will crack if not handled well. Of course to get the most out of the skeleton look, it was necessary for Angelus to use a material with a high transparency, in this case sapphire. The sapphire dome used as the upper part of the watch gives us the ability to see the parts from the side and have the utmost visibility. As far as skeletonizing goes, this design has only one purpose: show everything the watch has to offer. A nice sight on the flying tourbillon and the titanium bridges used in this movement.
In my opinion it’s a welcome change in design regarding skeletons. I like the fact that brands decide to create such a watch every once in a while, still, it has be something you don’t see every day. Skeleton watches are the result of a process erasing as many ‘unnecessary’ parts as possible, to create a minimalistic design. It asks for an out-of-the-box approach and isn’t something you see much. However, how complicated these creations are, in my opinion this is something that has to be kept limited. A welcome change at moments, but not a guideline for watchmakers.
Features and Indications
Central hours and minutes, one-minute flying tourbillon, haute horlogerie manufacture movement with sapphire main plate and blue skeletonized satin-finished titanium bridges
Movement and Finishing
Calibre: Angelus A-250, manual-winding with flying tourbillon, sapphire main plate and blue titanium bridges
Jewels: 18, set in solid gold chatons
Diameter: 32.60 mm
Height: 5.78 mm
Power reserve: 90 hours
Frequency: 21,600 vph / 3 Hz
Balance: variable inertia regulated by four gold weights, minimal air-resistant design
Escapement: Swiss lever
Gear train: exclusive Angelus 6-spoke design to maximize rigidity
Complications: one-minute flying tourbillon, ultra-light form
Tourbillon cage: steel, hand-chamfered and hand-polished
Movement finishing: haute horlogerie, all steel component with hand-chamfered and hand-polished edges, flat surfaces mirror-polished or satin-finished
Material: sapphire dial is actually the movement main plate
Hour and minute markings: printed spokes on outer chapter ring
Hour and minute hands: rhodium-treated and skeletonized
Material: NPT carbon-fibre and titanium
Diameter: 42.00 mm
Height: 10.30 mm including sapphire crystals
Crown: engraved with ANGELUS logo; 2 positions: 1. winding, 2. time-setting
Back: sapphire display back
Distance between lugs: 21.00 mm
Water resistance: 30 m / 100’/ 3 atm
Crystals: Sapphire crystal dome with anti-reflective coating on inside surface
Strap and buckle
Material: stealth black alligator leather with titanium insert
Length range: 75 mm to 115 mm
Width: 21 mm
Buckle: titanium, pin buckle engraved with Angelus logo
Limitation and reference
Limited Edition: 18 pieces